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Headlines for Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Kansas Lawmakers Advance Budget Plan to Avoid School Cuts 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are advancing a new budget-balancing proposal to allow the state to pay its bills through June without cutting public school spending. The Senate Ways and Means Committee unanimously endorsed a bill Tuesday that would temporarily short state contributions to public employee pensions and use internal government borrowing to get through June. The full Senate expects to debate the plan Thursday. The state is facing a projected shortfall of $281 million in its budget for the current fiscal year ending June 30. It faces total budget gaps of more than $1 billion through June 2019. The plan approved by the committee Tuesday assumes that lawmakers will increase taxes to raise $763 million over two years, starting in July. But new revenue would not flow before July.

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US Attorney for Kansas Not Among Those Asked to Resign 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. attorney for the District of Kansas, Tom Beall, is not among federal prosecutors who were asked to resign last week. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Beall will stay in office for the time being. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week asked 46 prosecutors who were holdovers from the Obama administration to resign. Beall was not a political appointee. He took over the job in April 2016 after Barry Grissom resigned. Grissom was appointed by President Obama but Beall joined the office in April 2011 and was named first assistant U.S. attorney two years later. After becoming acting U.S. attorney when Grissom resigned, the Justice Department later promoted him to his current position.

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Kansas Lawmaker Likens Planned Parenthood to Nazi Death Camp

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislator is standing by a comment he made in a letter comparing Planned Parenthood with a Nazi concentration camp. Republican state Senator Steve Fitzgerald of Leavenworth told The Kansas City Star on Monday that he considers Planned Parenthood worse than the Nazi regime in Germany. Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards called Fitzgerald's comments disturbing and said he should be ashamed. Fitzgerald is a strong abortion opponent. He sent a letter to Planned Parenthood Great Plains last week after learning a donation had been made in his name. He said in his letter on official Senate stationery that such a donation in his name was worse than "having one's name associated with Dachau." The Planned Parenthood chapter tweeted a photo of the letter.

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Kansas Congresswoman Jenkins Booed While Defending GOP Health Plan

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas congresswoman Lynn Jenkins was booed and faced shouts of "Do Your Job!" as she defended the Republican plan for overhauling health care. The five-term Republican congresswoman attended a raucous town hall meeting Monday in Lawrence reminiscent of recent events in which GOP lawmakers in other states have been booed and jeered. About 300 people attended the Jenkins event. The crowd booed Jenkins when she said the House GOP leaders' plan for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act would not cause people to lose their coverage. Members of the crowd shouted, "That's not true!" She held the event just after as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that 14 million Americans would lose their coverage within the next year under the Republican health plan.

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Kansas Governor Signs Disaster Declaration on Fires

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed a final disaster declaration covering 20 counties following last week's wildfires that burned more than 1,000 square miles of the state. Brownback made an initial disaster declaration verbally on March 5, and the final document covers fires that started March 4. One death and 11 injuries were attributed to the fires. The state said Monday that more than 40 homes and an unknown number of outbuildings were destroyed. The state also said three bridges in Clark County and one in Meade County were destroyed. An unknown number of livestock died. The counties listed in the declaration are Barber, Cheyenne, Clark, Comanche, Ellis, Ellsworth, Ford, Harvey, Hodgeman, Lane, Lincoln, McPherson, Meade, Ness, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Rooks, Russell, and Seward.

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Kansas Considers Taking Over Federal Workplace Regulation 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are looking to a state-run workplace regulation program as a tool to ease the burden of federal regulation on businesses. Opponents say the program could water down safety regulation oversight. The bill will be heard Wednesday. Supporters say a state-run program approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would ensure local control over regulation and that it has to be at least as effective as the federal program under law. But opponents and a federal government study say some state programs are underfunded . Opponents also took issue with the lower fines imposed by state programs . Twenty-four Senate Republicans ran on a platform that included regulation reform . The federal government would have to approve the state's plan.

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Former Kansas Lieutenant Governor John Crutcher Dies at 100 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — John Crutcher, a Republican Kansas state senator who later went on to serve as lieutenant governor for four years in the 1960s, has died. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Crutcher was 100 when he died Monday at his home in Jefferson, North Carolina. Crutcher was a Kansas state senator from 1953 to 1957, then served as lieutenant governor for two two-year terms from 1964 through 1968. He later served 11 years on the federal Postal Rate Commission after time as an administrative assistant to then-U.S. Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, and as an appointee to the former Office of Economic Opportunity. Crutcher was a Navy veteran of World War II. A memorial service is scheduled for Thursday at Jefferson United Methodist Church in Jefferson, North Carolina. 

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Goodyear: Worker Killed at Plant in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Federal workplace safety officials will investigate a contractor's death at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Topeka, Kansas. Officials identified the victim of the Tuesday morning incident as 61-year-old James Lay Jr., a worker for Kansas Personnel Services Inc. Goodyear and Kansas Personnel Services did not immediately offer details about circumstances involving Lay's death. Scott Allen, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said investigators with that agency were headed to the plant later Tuesday.

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Kansas Faith Leaders Gather for Muslim Advocacy Day 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Faith leaders urged Kansans to support Muslims in the state during an advocacy day at the state Capitol Monday. About 130 people gathered for the event sponsored by the Kansas branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Kansas Interfaith Action, a multi-faith advocacy group. Moussa Elbayoumy chairs the Kansas branch of the council. He says he's heartened by people who have "stood up with" the Muslim community and Muslims who offered to help protect recently vandalized Jewish cemeteries. He told the crowd that members of faith communities would oppose any parts of President Donald Trump's new executive order banning travel from six majority-Muslim countries that they think are unconstitutional.

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Man Gets Life in Prison for Killing Kansas Detective 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man who admitted killing a Kansas police detective has been sentenced to life in prison without parole. Curtis Ayers was sentenced Tuesday in the May 9 shooting death of Detective Brad Lancaster during a confrontation near the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty when the 29-year-old Ayers pleaded guilty in January to capital murder. Ayers didn't comment before he was sentenced. He also was sentenced for nine other felonies, including burglary, robbery, battery, kidnapping, assault and weapons counts, all committed after Lancaster was shot. He was arrested in Kansas City, Missouri, after he was shot by a police officer while allegedly trying to steal a woman's car. Ayers still faces charges in Jackson and Leavenworth counties.

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Kansas Supreme Court Hears Convicted Killer's Porn Appeal 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court is weighing an imprisoned convicted killer's claims that investigators illegally seized his computer, leading to an additional prison term for child pornography. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that an attorney for Jason Hachmeister told the state's high court Tuesday that the seizure of his client's computer during the homicide investigation defied common sense. Hachmeister was sentenced in 2015 to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 50 years in the 2011 killing of 58-year-old Sheila Hachmeister, who was stabbed and strangled. That sentence was to run simultaneously to the seven-year prison he got for convictions of 105 counts of possession of child porn. A Shawnee County prosecutor argued Tuesday that the confiscation of the computer and ensuing searches of it were handled appropriately.

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Parents: Body Inside Car is Missing Wichita Woman

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The parents of a Wichita woman who was missing since January 15 say a body found in a car pulled from the Missouri River was that of their daughter. A car belonging to 20-year-old Toni Anderson, a Missouri-Kansas City student, was pulled from the river near Parkville Friday. Police have not confirmed the identity of a body inside the car. But Anderson's mother and father told reporters the body was Toni's. Her mother, Liz Anderson, says no foul play is suspected in her daughter's death. Liz Anderson says it appears Toni became got lost while driving in the dark and ended up on a boat ramp in the park. She says her daughter apparently tried to back off the icy ramp and the car slid into the water.

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Topeka Police Identify Victims in Triple Homicide 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Topeka police have an undisclosed number of suspects in custody in connection with a triple homicide on Sunday. Police have identified the victims as Matthew Leavitt, 19, Nicole Fisher, 38, and Luke David, 20, all of Topeka. The bodies were found late Sunday when officers responded to a welfare check call at a Topeka home. Police say all people of interest related to the case are in custody. Details about those arrested were not immediately released.

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UMKC's Handling of Rape Cases Under Scrutiny 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — University of Missouri-Kansas City students are expressing ongoing concerns about a lack of transparency following an alleged rape in a dorm last month. The Kansas City Star reports university administrators called a meeting Monday to hear from students, faculty and staff after a protest last week regarding better protection against sexual violence for students. Freshman Zoe Rickman, who lives near the dorm where the rape allegedly occurred, says she only heard about the alleged incident from Facebook. Chancellor Leo Morton says he's disappointed in the way students had to learn of the case and promised a series of improvements in the school's security process. The 22-year-old man who has been charged with raping the woman February 23 was not a university student. School officials say the investigation is ongoing.

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Woman Sentenced For Taking Underage Girl to Wichita For Paid Sex 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A woman who admitted to driving a teenage girl to Wichita to have sex for money has been sentenced to more than four years in prison. The Sedgwick County district attorney's office says 21-year-old LaDeisha Brown of Wichita was sentenced Monday to four years and three months in prison. Brown pleaded guilty in January to attempted aggravated human trafficking and two counts of commercial sexual exploitation of a child. The 15-year-old victim told authorities she rode with Brown and Jaquett Dunbar to Wichita after she ran away from a Lawrence group home in February. Dunbar, Wichita, was sentenced in October to six years and 11 months in prison. The man accused of paying to have sex with the victim is scheduled for trial this month.

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Police Still Trying to Identify Body Found in Burning Car Near Clinton Lake

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Douglas County authorities are still trying to identify a body found in a burning car last week near Clinton Lake. Authorities say deputies sent to the Rockhaven Campground near the lake last Tuesday on a report of a fire. They discovered the body inside the car when the fire was extinguished. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Douglas County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kristen Dymacek said Monday the office is waiting for lab results from evidence collected at the scene. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees Rockhaven Park, says the park is currently closed and does not open until April 1.

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Bethany College Audit Shows First Positive Balance in 8 Years 

LINDSBORG, Kan. (AP) — An audit of Bethany College is showing a positive financial balance in the school's fiscal year 2016 for the first time in eight years. The Salina Journal reports that the audit by accounting firm Swindoll Janzen Hawk & Lloyd found Bethany improved its net operating assets from a negative $5.5 million in fiscal year 2015 to positive $77,000 last fiscal year. Bethany President Will Jones says that the administration and board of directors first looked for help from alumni and friends, raised $2.3 million from an annual fundraiser and eliminated multiple faculty positions. In addition to the good financial news, Jones says the school's Good Life free-tuition scholarship, announced in December, has resulted in over 120 high school seniors applying to the college as of Monday.

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Wildfires in Oklahoma, Kansas Now 63 Percent Contained 

GATE, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma Forestry Services says four wildfires in northwestern Oklahoma and southwestern Kansas that are blamed for one death in each state are now 63 percent contained. OFS says firefighters continued patrolling the fires Tuesday, putting out hotspots and working to improve containment of the flames that have burned a total of more than 1,200 square miles. The agency says the largest fire is the Starbuck fire that began near Gate and has burned more than 1,000 square miles in Oklahoma and Kansas. Other fires include the 283 fire near Laverne that's burned 108 square miles, the Selman fire near Fort Supply that's burned 74 square miles and the Beaver fire between Beaver and Elmwood that's burned about 4½ square miles. A suspected cause of the fires has not been released.

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Kansas State Tabbed as Host in NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament
 
MANHATTAN, Kan. _ The NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament bracket was released yesterday (MON) and Kansas State is one of the 16 hosts in the first round. After second-seeded Stanford opens against New Mexico State at Bramlage Coliseum Saturday afternoon, the Wildcats will follow with their game against Drake. K-State, at 22-10, is a number-7 seed. In the NCAA Division II women's tournament, Emporia State lost in the regional final, 58-54, last (MON) night against Harding in Arkansas.  The Lady Hornets finished the year with a 29-5 record
 

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